Many of us, myself included have found ourselves in the position where we are once again starting over with our lives. Either somebody betrays a trust, like in divorce, or we lose a job and end up financially losing everything, or we experience a loss in our lives like the death of a loved one. No matter the reason, there are times that we are just faced with starting over. The question is, does the Bible have answers for this type of situation?
I am probably the poster child for needing second chances and starting over. Some of the need for second chances has been my own fault, but also there have been times where it has been no fault of my own, yet I still needed to start over. So what I am sharing with you is not just some theory I learned in Bible college or out of some book, but what I am sharing with you has been the lessons that God has taught me over the years about how to start over with your life, including starting over after 40.
How to start over with your life.
The first thing obviously that you need to do is make sure your relationship with Jesus is on a solid footing. There is no sense starting over if you are just going to make the same mistakes that you made in the past. Your need to start over, proves that you are not the best in deciding the directions of your life. You need, as I needed, to come to the point where you truly surrender the destiny of your life to the one who sees the future, and sees what is truly best for your life.
Now I know that you may struggle with that. It is hard when you have lost everything to come to grips with your personal responsibility in that. You want to blame. I know I did. It was not until I took a hard long look in the mirror at myself that I realized that it was not God’s fault that my life was a mess. It was only when I took that look, that I realized that I had been captaining my ship much more than Jesus had been. God is not your co-pilot, He is either the pilot or He is nothing. He doesn’t play second fiddle to anyone, including you.
So take a moment, and ask yourself who has really been in control. Was it you, or Him?
In order to start over with your life, you must let go of what was.
Many of us, when we think of starting over, we are actually thinking of just getting back what we had. In order to start over with your life you need to let go of those former dreams, former goals, that former lifestyle and realize that this is an opportunity for a new beginning. For some of us that means letting go of the things that were important to others before our lives fell apart. Whether it was a spouse that is no longer there and what was important to them, or whether it was the way a former employer or even church felt we were to act and perform. This is a new beginning and we have to let go of those things.
I have a friend, who lost their spouse over 10 years ago. They were highly tied into a certain church group. My friend is stuck in a rut. Instead of letting go and finding a new beginning, my friend keeps comparing everything today with what was in the past and cannot embrace anything that might be slightly different than what they had. The apostle Paul was faced with this when He started over and became a Christian instead of a Pharisee.
Philippians 3:13-15 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
As you can see, He had to count all of those things he had as a Pharisee as lost. They were as good as gone for him. We have to let go of our past as well.
In order to be successful at starting over, you must learn to forgive yourself and others.
One of the biggest hindrances to people starting over is the fact that they harbor bitterness and unforgiveness for what has happened to them. You cannot go forward when you are tied to the past. This includes unforgiveness against those that might have hurt you or caused you to have the need for a new beginning, or it may be unforgiveness towards yourself for being so dumb, gullible, naive, ect. and making whatever mistake was made that put you in the position you are in.
When we have unforgiveness, we are placing the offending party in a prison in our heart. Jesus put it this way in the parable of the unforgiving servant.
Matthew 18:21-35 New King James Version (NKJV) The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet[a] and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’[b] 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
There is only one way that we can come to the place of truly forgiving the offending party. We have to come to realize how much we have been forgiven of. We have to deal with us. It can no longer be about them, it has to be about us.
Forgiveness does not mean it doesn’t hurt. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the offense wasn’t real. Forgiveness means that we are writing off that debt that we feel we are justly owed as unpayable. That the person who failed, does not have the ability to pay, and so we write it off as a bad debt. That includes ourselves. Can you honestly pay for the mistakes you have made? You can learn, and you can grow, but you cannot reverse time and fix them. What is done is done. So, you have to let go of that debt you are holding yourself accountable for as well.
In order to start over you must trust that God has a good plan for your life and be willing to follow that plan.
One of the most powerful scriptures that has allowed me to start over more than once in my life is found in Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 29:11 New King James Version (NKJV) 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
There are two parts to this scripture that are important. The first part is acknowledging that God has a plan for your life. It is not your plan, it is His plan. It will look different than what you envisioned for your life. It will not always be filled with ease and comfort. It will test you and stretch you, but in the end that plan will work our for your best.
Romans 8:28 New King James Version (NKJV) 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to Hispurpose.
You need to also know that God’s plan for your life is really the best plan. It will change you and shape you into a different person, but that plan is for good and not for evil. It will give you a hope and a future and that is where your true new beginning lies. It is in the future that God has laid out for you. If you really want this time of starting over to be the last time you start over, then follow His plan for your life. Walk in the future He has designed for you. This comes by not only making Jesus your Savior, but also your Lord. It comes when your hopes, ambitions and dreams are laid at the foot of the cross, and only His hopes, ambitions and dreams are followed in your life. The life you lived is put to death, and from now on, the life you live, is Christ living in you.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.